Friday, 29 November 2013

Thankful

This Thanksgiving, even though I am not in the United States, I am thankful.

I admit that, most of the time, I am able to ignore my homesickness through a sheer force of will. I love my life here in Manchester. My husband and my son are my favorite people to be with in the world. Yesterday morning however, I was hit hard with longing. Longing for my family and for the familiar traditions, food, and noise of Thanksgiving in San Antonio. I worried that I wouldn't make it through the Skype session we'd arranged without bursting into tears. By the time it was skype-o-clock, I was feeling better and had procured the ingredients to make a pumpkin pie. (Did you know that it's really hard to find a pie tin in the UK? By really hard, I mean neither of the 2 grocery stores in our area had any.)

So here is where I will tell you things I'm thankful for:

I'm thankful for my son and my husband. I simply adore them. They are both kind and clever and beautiful and funny. Every day I am happy to be theirs.


I'm thankful for my parents. They are so loving and supportive. They are also so understanding. I know they hate (HATE!) the distance between us- especially now that Linus is around. And I do too. However, I have the joy of my marriage and son to make up for it. They have to wait for our all too infrequent visits. They are such wonderful parents and grandparents. We are all so very lucky to have them.

The biggest thing that I was thankful for yesterday, though, was this:

I'm thankful technology and that my G'ma doesn't really understand it. We connected to my family before they sat down to dinner on my brother's iPad. When my beloved G'ma was handed the iPad, we spoke briefly and she got to talk to her first-born great grandson. I didn't, however get to hear whatever she tearfully said to us after that. I think this is a very good thing as I likely wouldn't have been able to keep it together. Instead, I had a good laugh as I played charades to let them know I couldn't hear and the iPad was passed back to my brother to fix. We got passed around the kitchen of my Aunt and Uncle's bustling house and said hello to everyone. Linus sang some songs and met his cousin Wyatt. We were introduced to my cousin's fiance- a lovely girl. The laughter and noise and hub-bub of preparation almost made me feel like we were there for those brief moments. And it was wonderful.

Today, I made my pumpkin pie. In a loose-bottomed flan tin because that's what I had. And it was good. And for that, I'm thankful.


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

A Different Option: Big Cup Little Cup Nespresso Pods

The other day Ross and I had a conversation.

Ross: People are talking about Gravity. Have we heard about it?
Me: Yes. It's with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in space. We watched her on The Daily Show the other day talking about it.
Ross: George Clooney?
Me: Yes. (pause and eye roll) No. Sandra Bullock.
Ross: (confidently) George Clooney is the one in the Nespresso Commercials.
Me: Yes. That is what he's primarily known for. (huge eye roll)


The best ways to get Ross' attention are by relating something to coffee, British comedy from the first half of the 20th century, or Frasier. He's a unique snowflake.

All this to say that coffee is important in our house. You might remember when I told you about our coffee machine, the aforementioned Nespresso. We are still really happy with it more than 2 years later. Well the people at Big Cup Little Cup read that post and offered me the chance to try some of their coffee for free in exchange for reviewing their product.

Needless to say, I was super-excited to get my first product review offer. Who doesn't love free stuff!?! I knew Ross would be thrilled to. He replied "Free coffee is my second favorite kind of coffee!" Clearly, good coffee is in first place. With free AND good coffee taking a special place above the ranking system. It's very scientific.

Let me tell you a little bit about what Big Cup Little Cup has to offer. They are a smaller company that is trying to take on the might of Nestle and offer an alternative to discerning coffee drinkers with Nespresso machines. They are a UK-based company who offer 9 different varieties of coffee in pods that are guaranteed compatible with most Nespresso machines (check which ones here). They also offer free shipping on all orders over £50.

One of the boxes we were sent. And one of the pod packets.
 
We received two different varieties to try: Millers Yard Espresso (Little Cup) and Highwire (Big Cup). One thing I like is the simple labelling system. It tells you right on the box whether your coffee is meant to be made as a "Big Cup" or a "Little Cup". With the Nespresso pods, I can never remember which fancily named "flavour" should be made which way. BCLC makes it easy as I know just from looking at the box which button on our machine I should push- the one with the picture of the big cup or the little cup. It would be even better if packets the pods come in were marked too. I like to put my pods in a bowl next to the Nespresso machine and I couldn't do that because the two varieties were indistinguishable if they weren't in their boxes.

Now lets talk about the biggest advantage of BCLC pods. What is the best thing about coffee? I'll tell you. The smell. Mmmmmmm. Fresh grounds. Nespresso pods don't smell at all. Once you open the packet that a BCLC pod comes in you get a huge whiff of delicious coffee smell. So good.

Too bad there's not smell-a-vison.
 
I found the coffee to be on similar par with other non-Nespresso pods. BUT! But, Big Cup Little Cup offers more varieties and can be recycled pretty easily. You don't have to drop them off or arrange for a pick up like with the Nespresso pods. You can just take care of it yourself. You can even make use of the grounds for compost! The styles that we tried were both 10 strength (the strongest they offer). Ross and I both agreed that they tasted more like a filter coffee than an espresso-based drink. That was sort of nice as there's no real way to make a traditionally brewed coffee with Nespresso pods. It's always good to have options. I'd have to try some more BCLC varieties to see if this is common across all their styles, or unique to the ones we tried. We found the taste to be good and the price even less than the Nespresso-branded pods. In addition, the customer service was great. It felt like a real personal touch that you wouldn't get from a big company.

Cutest cup of coffee ever

If you're looking for alternative pods for your Nespresso machine, I'd encourage you to give Big Cup Little Cup a try! You can't have a Linus coffee mug though. That would just be creepy.

**Big Cup Little Cup provided us with 2 boxes of their pods to try in exchange for a review. They didn't compensate me in any other way. All of the opinions expressed are my own. No one tells me what to say, buddy.**

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Mama

I've mentioned in the past that Linus was... slow... to jump on the Mama train.

He'd happily share a hat. Er, plastic tub.

My darling boy certainly loved me, but he just wasn't eager to name me. He had "Dada" down for a long time before he ever uttered the word "Mama" in reference to me. Heck, he even had Grandma and Grandpa. He was obsessed with Jack, the little blond boy in Mr. Daydream after a single reading- proclaiming "Jack!" and pointing with delight.

A look of love

I started to think that the problem was that he didn't understand that he and I were separate people. We spend nearly all our time together and it seemed to jive with his confusion regarding why I needed a name. That theory made me feel warm and fuzzy while I waited to hear the sweet sound of "Mama". I still think it was true.

Suddenly, one day, he got the hang of it. Now it's a constant refrain. This morning on the tram, he was introducing me to the packed car of people. Pointing over his shoulder to where I stood at the handlebar of his stroller and proudly proclaiming "Mama!" to all his new friends. I love it. I love the sound of that repeated syllable. 

As and expat, I treasure "Mama" even more. All of Linus' friends have long-since moved on from the initial sounds to the standard "Mummy". I'm a unique amongst a sea of mummies. I am Mama, hear me roar. I really hope he sticks with it for a long time. I know that most likely, he'll eventually switch to Mummy. He's bound to hear it and adopt it once he goes to school. Heck, he already hears it from Daddy. So for now, I'll treasure these days of being Mama.

All this intro to say that there's a new development. Linus loves to look at pictures of both Ross and me. He gleefully identifies us. In the last week, though, he's has gone a bit Mama-crazy. The following are pictures he has pointed to and said "Mama".

This one was first. The lady on the box of Tyrrell's Crisps. I was less than flattered.
To give him the benefit of the doubt, my coat did look similar. And she's wearing a hat. I like hats.

The bill painter at the rubber duck factory in Ten Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle.
Slightly more flattering.

Janice on this poster from The Muppets. Ok. I can handle that.
Then Scooter. Sigh.

The (evil?) queen on Linus' alphabet puzzle.
At least she's pretty.

I wonder what's next.
Any one else have a child with a slightly adventurous opinion of what "Mama" looks like?

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

20 months

Dear Sweet Baby,

You are 20 months old and we love you so much. That should come as no surprise. We think you are so fun and funny and just all-aroud-awesome. In that respect nothing much as changed. Daddy and I look at each other every day and marvel at how much we like you. You make us smile and laugh so much.

You still love "sa"s

You have learned so much in the last few months. Running, jumping, and talking up a storm occupy our days. You are just starting to put together some phrases. "Bobbin Song" was your first word combo. You love to sing "Wind the Bobbin Up" and ask for it often. You are also working on manners. You know the signs for "please" and "thank you". If I ask you to ask for something nicely you are very good at adding please to your request. Sometimes you sign it, sometimes you say it, and sometimes you do both. You will sign "thank you" when prompted, but haven't started saying it yet. It's really interesting to me to see how your language develops. You are maintaining a neat combination of signing and speaking.

You are learning so much and we've inadvertently taught you a few queues that we think are hilariously awesome. When someone says "fast feet" you run in place. When someone says "What are you gonna do?" you put your hands out as if shrugging your shoulders. When you are cheering yourself or someone else on at an accomplishment you will put your arms up in the air and say "Did it!".

So cute

Perhaps our absolute favourite is your response to the question "Are you OK?". If you are, in fact, ok- you respond "Sha sha". It is too sweet. We're not sure if you're saying "ok" or something else, but it clearly means "Yep. I'm fine." We ask you multiple times a day, just to hear you say it. It is also useful because if you're upset or have had a little tumble we can ask and know that you're no seriously upset or in pain. I need to get it on video. I'll be very sad when you say it. Same goes for you saying "bup" instead of up. Sweet boy!

You love to climb and slide. You are finally getting on board with swimming. You think Mommy and Daddy have beautiful singing voices (You're not wrong about Mommy ;)). I think your favourite activity is bath time. You LOVE to slip and slide while the water is draining. Bath time is both my least and most favourite time of day. Least because it's the end of the day and sometimes I'm just tired and thinking ahead to the dinner that still needs making after you go to bed. And most because you are so cute and fun, splashing in the water and laughing your sweet little giggle. Needless to say, the giggle wins.

You don't believe me when I tell you bath water is yucky.

Your sleep is still great. I could do with a longer nap. You're down to just around and hour in the afternoon. But! You generally sleep from 7PM to 8AM, so I can't complain. You are doing fine with eating and are starting to come out of a picky phase. You love fruit, cheese, and raw cabbage. Pickles and olives are a must. Generally, you want a bite of anything Daddy is eating. Even if you've just finished a meal.

I always said "I just don't understand those mothers that won't cut their son's hair. Mooning over curls." Well I eat my words. Your curls are glorious. I am worried that they will be ruined by a haircut, so I'm holding out until you start to look like a girl. Daddy doesn't mind, given that he'd forgo haircuts altogether if he could. 



You are still a bit shy when we go to toddler groups. You don't cling to me, but you are hesitant to fully join in. You won't really do the motions to songs, even though you do them with me at home. I think you just like to check things out and take the lay of the land before joining in. I can't disagree with that approach. 

Ribbon hat at music group

You are your mother's son and are really into accessories. Sunglasses, hats, bags. It's not unusual for you to cycle through multiple hats in a day. You love to carry bags, throwing them over your arm and saying "Bye-bye" cheerfully. On the other hand, you are also a Daddy's boy. You generally want Daddy to pick you up and hold you when you're upset and lately you are very unhappy if you and I go somewhere without Daddy. Daddy just beams at you. You are free and easy with kisses for both of us, though for some reason, Daddy is often greeted with a head bowed. You present your head, sometimes even the back of your neck for kisses. I more frequently get your mouth or cheek. When you give hugs you go "Ahhh" contentedly. 

I can't believe how much you have changed and grown in the last few months. Every day you do or say something new and we think "how did you learn that?!!?" You are an amazing little man. I say it every letter, but we adore you. Every day, you make my heart full of love. I think you are the best thing I've ever done. 

Love you so much,
Mommy



Thursday, 31 October 2013

Stages of Expat-dom

Every expat certainly hits several milestones in their journey. There are those firsts- firsts that let you know you're really not at home any more. And then they let you know that you're starting to consider this new place home. The two kinds of moments don't transition seamlessly from one kind to the other. They blend and overlap.

There's the first time you buy new toiletries and realize that you can't get your trusted deodorant/moisturiser/razor. There's the first time you need some new clothes and you want to cry because you can't wrap your head around the fact that you have to go up 2 sizes in England. (Not that you are actually bigger, but that doesn't matter to your irrational brain that is tied to the number of your American size.)

There's the time that you realized you looked right at a crosswalk, rather than left without even thinking about it. There are those times when you stumble over your words because your brain can't keep straight the American and British word choices. You can't figure out the right way to say it and then end up saying something that is a bizarre mix of the two that would make sense to neither an American or a Brit. Awesome!

There's the time your Mom asks is a phrase you used was British and your answer is "huh... well, if you didn't understand it, then it must be..." Then there's the time that you hear yourself say something and cringe. The other day, I had one of those moments. I was on the phone with someone and they asked if the number I had called from was the best number to reach me at. I heard myself reply, "Yes, it's my mobile". And not just mobile like I would normally say it (mo-bull). No, I said moBILE.


I heard it as it was coming out of my mouth. I even said "Oh my god. I can't believe I just said that. Who am I?" as soon as I said it. It was horrifying and hilarious. It was possibly my biggest milestone yet. I think I have to accept that my G'ma is right. I'm starting to sound a little bit British. (I'd always maintained that this was ridiculous and she's just going deaf.)

I'll tell you something, though. It's an expat milestone that has me surprisingly flustered. It demonstrates that I'm not fully entrenched in my new culture. I need new underwear. I've never bought underwear in England. There's no Target (my go-to underwear spot). The sizes are different. It's not that big a deal. I'm sure they have something at M&S that would be just fine, and yet... I'm dragging my feet. Perhaps I'm displaying my patriotism through my undergarments? Who knows.

What have your expat milestones been?
Did you experience any strange hang-ups that surprised you?

Sunday, 13 October 2013

It's about the egg cup...

There are many times in my relationship with Ross where I've asked a variation of this question:

"Is that because you're British, or because you're you?"

Something happens, or he says something, and I wonder- is his reaction/answer weird to me because of our cultural differences, or because he's a weird guy. (A wonderful, kooky, lovely, weird guy.) Sometimes, he's not sure. Then I have to ask my friends about it so they can tell me if it's a cultural thing or a Ross thing.

And now, an example.

Are you familiar with egg cups? If you are British, the answer is "Certainly!". I'm not sure any more, but I don't think I'd ever heard of one before moving to the UK. They go crazy for them here.


There are cute ones, funny ones, personalized ones, fancy ones. They are often sold in gift sets. There even exists such a thing as an egg cozy. You know, to keep your egg warm in the brief period of time between when goes into the egg cup and when you eat it.


Anyway. I get that they are a British staple. I get that they are commonly used- a standard English breakfast food is Eggs & Soldiers. I think I might have used one a couple of times. Ross uses one maybe once a month.

The thing is... we have at least 11. And that's just ones I can think of off the top of my head. Because they're visible in my kitchen without opening any cabinets or digging around. So there are probably more squirrelled away in the recesses of our flat. ELEVEN! For 2 people.

Why? Is this a British thing? To have more egg cups than your household needs? To have several sets of different designs and styles? Or is it just because my husband's family is weird? And likes egg cups to an excessive extent?

In closing, I present a clip from one of my favorite episodes of one of my favorite British sitcoms. It's long, but there's no good way to explain the title of this post without watching quite a bit.


Is there anything that you randomly have a lot of? Please, tell me I'm not alone.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Words

Because I believe that words have power, I think a lot about what I say to Linus. For many months I've said the same thing to Linus as I put him down for naps and night sleep. The words came spontaneously and remained unaltered for many months.

"You are sweet and smart and beautiful and funny. Mommy and Daddy love you. Grandma and Grandpa love you. You'll go to sleep and have sweet dreams and when you wake up, we'll have a wonderful afternoon/day."

I believe that the words he hears and the intent behind them will soak into his soul. I want him to have these words written on his heart, so he can carry them with him all his life. I believe it is my job as his mother to lay the foundations of self esteem and that, even this small speech, whispered lovingly into his ear every day, will help him.


To that effect, I started thinking about the words I was saying. I decided to amend two of my words. I decided that, while he is sweet, KIND is the word I'd like to steep him in. "You are kind" became the beginning of my sleepy time speech. Sweet is nice. It makes others smile. But- it feels more surface. Like a veneer of sugar. Kind is nice and makes others smile, but it can be revolutionary in a way that sweetness cannot. A small act of true kindness can change lives. I hope that Linus will have a kind spirit.

The other change I made was prompted by an article a friend shared on Facebook. I started to think about the implications of telling Linus that he his smart. The article made me think. It made me think about the fact that, here in Britain, babies and small children are most often praised for being clever.

Smart. Clever. At first glance, it might just seem to be one of the hundreds of instances where the two cultures have differing preferences for similar words. The more I thought about it, however, I came to believe that there's more to it than that. There is a deep-rooted difference in cultural attitudes in the US and the UK. The US is shiny and new. It is confident, loud and brash. It is full of people who would hold up flashing neon signs proclaiming that they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. And increasingly, children who's parents are willing to spend all their time and energy holding up their signs for them. The UK is ancient and staid. It is self-deprecating and stoic. It's people love to complain, but are also famous for their ability to suck it up and quietly do what needs to be done without a show or expecting of praise. Their is even an unspoken mindset that is isn't done to be too striving or self-confident, or flashy.

I thought about the two words and how they are different. In some subtle way, they are each completely reflecting of their respective cultures. Smart is something that you are- without trying, without doing anything to earn. You are smart because you are smart. Your brain is uniquely, inherently superior. Clever, on the other hand, has a subtle implication of more than that. A clever person doesn't just know the answer. They are intelligent enough to work to figure it out. And I like that. I like the idea of instilling in Linus the confidence that he has the resources to figure things out. That he can work hard and exercise his beautiful mind. That his natural-born abilities are not all he has. He has the resourcefulness to reach beyond himself. Does that make sense? It may just be reading too much into a word, but it rings true with me.

And so, I decided to alter half of my words. I take no issue with the other two. Beautiful is exactly what he is. He is beautiful of body and spirit. His very creation is beautiful, regardless of the (admittedly stunning) package. And funny. He's just so, so funny. Which is important. Terribly important.

So I now tell him that he is: kind, clever, beautiful, funny. Because he is. And he always will be. And it's important that he knows it. And so I tell him.

Do you see a difference between smart and clever?
What words do you want to wrap your loved ones in?

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

I really think I mean it this time.

I've pulled out my laptop for the first time in months. It started up slowly, but seems to be kicking along fine now. (Well... fine for a 5 year old laptop!)
I've had a bit of bloggerblock lately. (I don't know if you noticed. The tale tell clue was the fact that I haven't written anything besides letters to Linus in MONTHS.) I know I've said before that I was going to get back on the horse, but I really think I mean it this time. More and more, these days, I'm finding myself thinking "Oh, that would make a good blog post!" I think that means I should get my butt in gear again.
I don't know how many readers I have any more between the demise of Reader and my radio silence, but I know my mom always enjoys when I post. (Hi Mom! Love you.)

I will share with you a new exciting thing in my life. Do you know about autoawesome? Ross and I just discovered it. Our phones automatically sync with Google+, so all of our pictures get uploaded automatically. The great thing is, Google Pictures (formerly Picasa) will take series of 5 or more pictures and automatically create gifs. It is awesome. Since gifs aren't easy to share on Facebook, we wanted an easy place to share them with friends and family. In case any of your are curious, you can follow our gifs (which are nearly all, unsurprisingly Linus-related) at www.awesomewag.blogspot.com

Mostly I just wanted to tell you about it so you could get your own awesome gifs.
Like this.

Happy Baby

Anyone still out there? How are y'all? What's new?

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

16 & 17 Months

Dear Line,
It has been a fun two months! You have really grown by leaps and bounds- physically and mentally (though I feel like I'm always saying that)! You are suddenly a BOY. I marvel at you and wonder where my baby has gone.
You are a master of movement. Running, climbing on everything, experimenting with jumping, and playing. It seems amazing that you have such sureness of self. You barrell forward towards whatever you want without any doubt of your ability. This doesn't always go well, but luckily you are also good at falling. :)

You are doing so well with sleep. You generally go down easily without any fuss and are getting awesome at self-soothing. You have a few things in the crib with you, but aren't particularly attached to anything special. Tonight when I checked on you, you'd thrown out all your toys and were cuddling a book. Silly boy! You generally have a nearly 2 hour nap after lunch. I'm loving having time to eat my lunch and do a few chores in peace.

Your eating is pretty good. You definitely know what you like and aren't afraid to let us know. Usually what you want is whatever your Dad is eating. It never fails! You love pickles, olives, cottage cheese, tomatoes, and all fruit. You randomly have stopped liking yogurt in the last couple of weeks. So bizarre. Thankfully, we finally figured out the milk situation. Goat's milk for the win!

As far as communication, you are rocking it. You say some words, sign others, and a few select you say and sign. You say and sign: all done, bye, duck/quack, and bath. You sign: more, chicken,  and food. You say: hat, book, ball, button (baba), cheese, shoes, moo, baa. You are working on Grandma and Grandpa. You rarely say Dada. Mama is even more rare. Usually only when you are insisting that I eat something you are trying to feed me. We're getting there though. Right? Right. You understand way more than that. You love to look at your picture book and point to different things that I name. It's really cool to watch you learn new words every day.

You and Daddy still dig each other the most. You love to climb up and sit next to him. You have taken to kissing his feet recently. We're not sure where that came from or what it's about, but it's cute and funny. You are also enjoying getting The Yickers. It's a thing from Daddy's family where you get tickled on the thigh. Mommy hates them, but I'm glad you find them amusing.

Sweet baby, you are the light of my days. You make me laugh and smile. You are just the best.
Love you so, so much,
Mommy

Ps. I couldn't find my converter for my laptop power cord, so I am typing this on the Tab. It's too hard to add pictures on this so I'll add them later. Once I find the converter. I would wait to publish, but Grandma gets very antsy.

Monday, 3 June 2013

14 & 15 Months

Dear Chicken Bean,

Well hello there, my sweet boy. I've had to combine the last two months because I never got around to your 14 month letter. I've been busy helping daddy with work in the evenings. I'm going to try to get back on the blogging wagon (I know... I've said it before. This time, I think I mean it.)

So much has happened in the last two months! I feel like I'm always saying this, but you've made some huge developmental leaps. I look at you and wonder what happened to my baby. You are so grown up! You really are a toddler now. (Though you'll always be my sweet baby!) You are a master walker now. You are super-fast and have pretty good balance. You rarely crawl these days. It's all go, go, go. You have several words now. You're favorite is "down" because you always want to get down and walk around. To make things difficult, you won't hold hands. Never have. That means that there are often times when you want "down", but it just isn't safe. I think we'll be getting a kiddie leash before long (even though I always swore they were silly before).


Your other words are: round (asking us to do the rhyme "Round and Round the Garden"), again, row (asking for "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"), all done, shoes, outside, down
You sign for: bath, food, more, water, all done, duck (very rare), sleep, milk
You make noises for these animals: zebra, lion, duck, monkey, fish (not consistently)

You understand a whole lot more and add new things every day. I'm constantly amazed by things you comprehend. It is so much fun watching you grown and learn. Daddy and I think you are a genius, you know.

We had a wonderful visit with Grandma and Grandpa mid-May. It was too short, but we are excited that we'll see them again in a couple of weeks. You were a bit shy and were finally warming up just when it was time for them to go. I'm so sad we don't get to spend more time together, but I'm grateful for any time we get. Grandma & Grandpa has a grand time following you around and loved watching you gobble up your food.



You're mostly and excellent eater- though you definitely have favorite foods: tomatoes, cheese, most fruit, & sweet potatoes. You aren't a fan of fish these days, but I keep trying. I'm making some progress on getting you to drink cow's milk. You'll drink it happily as long as it's mixed with some fruit smoothie. I'm planning to gradually increase the milk/smoothie ratio until you're ok with plain milk. You still have breastmilk first thing in the morning and just before bed, but I think we're getting closer to being done. You don't really drink much at night anymore, so I think that will drop pretty soon.


Your sleep is awesome. You sleep through the night and have (almost always) just one nap, which you go down for without trouble. Even better, if we're out and about you'll nap in the stroller. I love that you are flexible and don't get too out-of-sorts if we don't stick to a strict schedule.


You are a bit clingy and often times only Daddy will do. He mostly doesn't mind, except when his back hurts from carrying you for too long. You have a great mix of tender loving cuddly-ness and fierce independence. I love that. It makes me feel like you are secure in our love for you- which, let's face it, is IMMENSE.


My darling boy, you are so much fun and so, so wonderful. I almost can't stand it. I'm brought to tears on a daily basis by how amazing I think you are.
Love, love, love you,
Mommy



Thursday, 4 April 2013

13 months

Dear Sweet Bean of Love,

You are 13 months old! I was telling someone how old you were the other day and I couldn't wrap my brain around the fact that you are more than a year old already. You have had quite the month! It's been a little crazy. You kicked off the month by going spectacularly off your schedule and have only just gotten back on track. I am certainly breathing a sigh of relief that you are back on track. I don't like seeing you out of sorts.

It all started when we gave you cow's milk for the first time the day after your birthday. You seemed to really like it and drank it up well, but the next day you were horribly sick and couldn't keep anything down! You'd never been sick before and it was very upsetting to us to see you vomiting. Poor baby! You were pretty miserable for a few days after, not eating much and nursing a lot more.


I've been saying for ages that I'm happy to breastfeed as long as you want, but that hopefully you'd be ready to be done by about 18 months. I'm not going to lie, I started to feel a bit like you were never going to be done! It was hard for me to feel like I'd lost ground when you added nursing sessions back. I also saw cow's milk as a natural transition. After your first try you started refusing it and that made me panic about not having something to replace breast milk with. Yikes! By the end of the month you actually finally dropped to nursing just after waking up and again before bed. What a relief! I'm happy with that schedule for a while. You still won't have milk, but you are getting plenty of dairy with yogurt and cheese.



You are really taking off walking now. You are so steady standing still that it amazes us. You have also figured out how to climb on the couch and it is your favorite place. You took a few days to figure out being safe on the couch, but now you can scramble up and down like a champ. We really need to get you some shoes so you can try your walking when we're out and about. It also might get you to keep your socks on. You love to take them off and show off your bare toes.


You are so funny! You are really learning so much about playing and interacting. You still love to play peek-a-boo. You play it in the bath and even on Skype with Grandma and Grandpa. It's pretty adorable.  You are also playing with your toys more and differently. It's neat to watch you try different things and figure out how things work. Your daddy and I might be biased, but we think you are very smart!

Oh how we love you my little baby!
Mommy


Friday, 22 March 2013

Tram Conversations

When using public transportation, you see and hear lots of things. 

Some are interesting. 
A few weeks ago, we were getting on the tram when the doors shut very quickly and the tram started to move. I was just inside the door on the crowded tram car and saw a woman on the other side frantically pushing the button. As she realized the tram wasn't going to let her on, she started motioning and yelling. At first I thought, "Geez lady, calm down. Sure it's annoying to miss a tram like that, but another one will be along in a few minutes." Then I realized that she wasn't yelling, she was trying to communicate instructions to people on the tram. I also realized that the people were three young men (late teens/early 20s). We couldn't really make out the instructions before the tram pulled away. As we rode along, it became clear that the young men were mentally handicapped. They lamented the situation between themselves and said over and over that it was "the doors' fault". The looked at me for reassurance in this matter. I heartily agreed that there was nothing they could have done. As the ride went on, the boys continued to confirm amongst themselves that it was the doors' fault. I noticed that one was wearing a Bury College lanyard and we asked if they were going to Bury (the last stop on the line). They confirmed that they were and so we talked about how they could just stay on until the end and then get off and wait for their teacher to join them, as she would surely be on the next tram. Not long before our stop (2 stops before the Bury stop), I confirmed that the young men knew what to do. (We would have accompanied them, but it was already pushing it for Linus' dinner time and there were plenty of others on the tram who could assist.) One of them looked at me and earnestly said "It's scary being all alone." I told him that he wasn't alone. He had his friends and the other people on the tram. And then ran through what to do once they got to the Bury stop one more time. I then high-fived them for reassurance. They were such sweet guys. I still sort of wish we could have accompanied them, just to make sure.


Some are funny.
The other day, I was holding Linus as Ross and I stood on a crowded tram car. In order to fit on the tram, we'd filled in spaces, meaning that we weren't right next to each other. A nearby man in a business suit was smiling at Linus and making faces to entertain him. Linus' gaze shifted to Ross. I noticed his smile and said "Is that your daddy?" Ross noticed the panic on the suited man's face. I was oblivious to the fact that the man thought I was referring to him!

Some are sad.
Today we rode the tram and were wedged next to 3 teenagers. Two boys and a girl. One boy and the girl were a couple and the other boy was a newish friend of theirs. They were all filled with the public cockiness that teens so often put on to mask their insecurity. They talked loudly, putting on a show for the other tram-riders. They clearly imagined themselves the stars of some very compelling reality show. (Clearly they weren't wrong, as I'm now relaying the story to you.) They spoke about the petty dramas that fill most teenage lives. They used vulgar language with daring and a pinch too much forced casualness. The boyfriend got on his cell phone and called someone and asked if it was ok for his girlfriend to come to his house for tea (tea means dinner 'round these parts). As he hung up the phone, he was all in a huff and chastised his girlfriend that she'd "almost made him say 'I love you' to his dad". The three shared a good old laugh. The boy continued in his exclamations regarding expressing this emotion. He acted like it would have been the most ridiculous thing ever. His girlfriend joined in his laughter saying "that would have been... awkward". The way she said it left no doubt, that she would have found it the height of lameness. They all mocked the possibility of this imagined faux pas together. They continued to discuss exchange of emotion between father and son in a dismissive manner and threw around the word "gay". 

I wanted to turn around and tell this boy that:
a) "Gay" is not an insult. It isn't a word to be used to describe a situation that makes you uncomfortable. It is not "gay" to express emotion. Unless he meant that sometimes being gay takes real courage, as does expressing emotion.
b) I bet his father loves him. A lot. 
c) I hope that he loves his father. And I hope someday soon he figures out a way to till him as much.


I didn't. I just continued listening to this conversation- my back to them as I faced my husband. My adorable husband who was holding our son. My two favorite boys who were gazing at each other with such love. I watched as they played and made silly faces and as Ross covered Linus' face with kisses. It broke my heart to think that some day Linus might have a similar conversation. Then I thought about it and decided that was a silly worry. Of course our boy would grow up in a loving home where his parents were open with their emotions and vocal about their love. He would come of age knowing that it IS cool love your family. He might get embarrassed by us. He might get mad at us. But he will always know that Mommy and Daddy love each other. And that we both love him. We say it constantly. Because it's important to me. Important that he not just know it, but that he hear it. Important that he learn to say it. Important that we teach our boy to be a man who can express himself emotionally. So then I just felt sad. Sad that this boy didn't feel that way. Sad that he and his father don't get to experience the joy of open admiration for each other. And happy. Happy that my husband has no problem expressing love. That he is the kind of father who will kiss his son and hold his hand and teach him how to be a loving, kind, and brave person. Happy that Linus will have such a wonderful role model to show him how a real man acts.

Are you vocal with your love? 
Anyone else have any good public transportation stories?

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

ONE

Dear Linus Alexander,

You are a year old now. (Well technically you are a year and nearly two weeks old now because mommy has fallen off the blogging wagon, but whatever...) You are such an amazing little guy. I can't tell you how often you make me laugh. I go teary thinking about how much I love you at least once a day. It blows my mind to think how much you have changed in the last 12 months, and then how much you will change in the coming years.
How things have changed! (L- At the Manchester Museum on March 1, 2013; 
R- At NMGH on March 1, 2012)

You are so fast at cruising and will take a few unsupported steps if pressed, but are rarely happy about it. You seem quite cautious and content to keep crawling until you are sure you have walking nailed. You still love to blow kisses and have started to give unsolicited smoochies. Those are the best. You are very sweet, you know. You love to play peek-a-boo and are getting really good at holding blankets/your shirt/my shirt/anything in front of your face and then pulling it away with a big grin. You are also pretty good at knowing that the duck says "quack quack". We're working on other animal noises, but duck is your first one. You also have the hang of putting shapes on rings. 


Eating is still pretty good. You have days of being a bit more picky, but I just ride it out and keep offering a mix of healthy foods. You still haven't had any meat or chicken (you eat fish though). I'd say bananas and cheese are your favorites. I wonder how many bananas you would eat if you kept going after one! You had your very first sweet (other than fruit) for your birthday. You ate up your chocolate cake like crazy!! Don't worry though, it was very healthy. I made it with sugar substitute Xylitol and black beans. I used this recipe. Daddy and I both agreed that it was very tasty. You are still having 3 breastmilk feeds a day. I don't have a real plan to wean you yet. I figure I'll introduce cow's milk and see what happens. I'd be happy for you to drop your afternoon feed and just do first thing in the morning and last thing before bed, but we'll see. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until 2, so I figure as long as I am happy and you are happy we'll keep at it.


Sleep is still great at night and not great during the day. On my birthday (Feb 10th) I was wondering aloud when you would drop to 1 nap. The next day, as if by magic, you refused to take your morning nap. Looking back, you'd been having a bit of trouble going down at night for a week or so before. I assume it was because you were in the process of transitioning to 1 nap. Now that you are down to 1 nap, I really will get busy on getting you to nap in your crib. Pinky swear.

It should come as no surprise that you and Daddy are still part of the world's cutest mutual admiration society. I mean you like me a whole lot. Especially when you want milk. But Daddy is your favorite. And he's such a softie. I am sure I'll have to be the heavy on a few things when you are older. 



You really are beautiful. And it's not just us that thinks so. Strangers frequently come up to us and tell us how lovely/gorgeous/beautiful you are. It's not just physical, either. When you start flirting, it's a rare person that isn't charmed by your sweet smiles and gasping laugh. You have sweetness in your heart, which shines through that adorable face. There isn't a more lovely sound in the world than your laughter.


Oh my sweet boy! I can't wait to see what the next year holds. You are the most fun. The sweetest. The most wonderful little guy I could imagine and I am truly blessed to be your mommy.
I love, love, love you.
Mommy

(Dear readers, I'm working on rebuilding my blogging mojo which has been on hiatus. I'm coming back. For real. Pinky swear. Don't give up on me.)

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Cheerful Sunday

Today, I am cheerful that I am 34 years old. I got to celebrate the day with my two most favourite guys who make me smile so big. I have amazing parents, family, and friends. I'm a lucky, lucky girl. Can't wait to see what the next year brings.


Monday, 4 February 2013

11 Months

Dear Sweet Baby,

How is it possible that you are nearly a year old! You are so awesome. I find myself utterly obsessed with how adorable and wonderful you are. I'm THAT mom. And I don't even care. I want everyone to know how amazing you are.


You are learning and growing so fast. You haven't made any real progress on walking, (just a couple of steps at a time, very rarely) but you are getting so steady at standing. You can stand without holding on to anything for a really long time. You get a look on your face like you're thinking about walking, but then think better of it and decide to crawl instead. I give you about a bazillion kisses a day which has led to your greatest trick yet. One day, we were out walking and I had you in the sling. I was talking to you about what we were doing and said something about "kisses". Imagine my surprise, when you started blowing sweet baby kisses to me! I did it again to make sure, and- sure enough- you know what "Kisses" means! Daddy and I are taking total advantage of this new trick and getting kisses from you as often as we can.


You are eating and sleeping well, though don't talk to me about naps. I said last month that I was going to work on getting you back in your crib for your naps, but that never happened. Partly, I just like snuggling with you now while I can! I know you won't always be a sweet little baby who wants to take naps with Mommy so I'm taking full advantage.

Stacking cups are still your favorite

The time has really flown by and it will be your first birthday before we know it. You are such a cool sweet little guy. Every night, after I've nursed you one last time, I hold you close and say "Mommy loves you so much. You are sweet and smart and beautiful and funny. Mommy and Daddy love you. Grandma and Grandpa love you. You'll go to sleep and have sweet dreams, then you'll wake up and we'll have a wonderful day." Sometimes I wax a bit rhapsodic about how you are the best thing Mommy and Daddy have ever done, etc. etc. if I'm feeling extra cheesy. But it's all true. I mean every word and I want it to soak into that gorgeous head of yours, so I'll say it over and over and over.

I love you, love you, love you.
Mommy

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Word of the Week

Loftattic


Definition: The space under the roof of a house, often used for storage
Used in a sentence: Our flat may be lacking in storage space, but at least we have a loftattic!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

10 Months

Dear Line,

Ten months! You are ten months old! We celebrated your first Christmas and got a picture taken with Santa.  I'm hoping to make it an annual tradition (though I think we'll try to find a better Santa next year... maybe one not located in a strip centre parking lot inside a tiny wooden hut!)


You surprised Daddy and me by taking your very first steps this month. You wanted one of us to pick you up and moved from Daddy to Mommy in hopes of some extra attention. (Daddy was busy working!) I was chatting to Grandma online, but saw you take two little steps just out the corner of my eye. Daddy saw it to and we couldn't believe it! You haven't managed more than one shaky step again, but you are getting much better at standing up on your own. You can balance for several seconds before you plop down on your little tushie. You still prefer to crawl for speed, but I don't think it will be long before you're running rings around us. You have also gotten the hang of waving this month. You love to wave to us, but are a bit more reserved with strangers. You also love to point. Often you aren't really pointing at anything, you just have a finger up in the air. Daddy and I joke that it looks like you are saying "I have an idea!"


You are still eating well, though you've had a bout of pickiness lately. You went off sweet potatoes, sending me into a panic! You seem to be developing a strong preference for certain foods to be warm, whereas you used to not mind one way or the other. Your favorite these days seems to be half a pita with hummus and grated carrot. You've also started drinking a lot more water, which is awesome. I'm so glad that we decided to do Baby-led Weaning and can't imagine doing it another way. You added in a second morning milk feed directly after your first when you were sick earlier this month and haven't dropped it yet, but I don't mind.

Speaking of you being sick, you passed another childhood milestone by coming down with your first virus. One morning you had some tiny marks around your mouth. At first, I thought you'd just scratched your face by chewing on fingers with nails that were a bit long. By mid-morning, though your Daddy pointed out that it looked more like a rash. Mother's intuition told me it was Hand Foot and Mouth, a very common childhood virus. It was confirmed when the rash spread to your arms and legs. I felt terrible that it took me so long to figure out, as looking back you'd been under the weather for about a day before I noticed. I could tell you felt a bit crummy because you were fussier than usual and didn't want to eat. We gave you plenty of TLC and you were back to your old self before the weeks end.

Mr. Spotty Face

Your night sleep is still really good- though some mornings I'd be happy for you to sleep a bit later! Your naps are a work in progress. Lately I've been lying down with you to nap. It's very nice and sweet to snuggle with you, but makes it difficult to accomplish much. I keep telling myself that it's all just a phase and that you'll only be a baby for so long, so I should just treasure the moments of cuddling with you. I'm working on putting a nap routine in place, though, so look out for that next month.

You are still a total Daddy's Boy, clinging to him and reaching for him. You love me too, but rarely cling to me the way you do him. I love watching the two of you together. The other night, Daddy and I were going to bed and he declared "I'm going to check on my boy". It was the cutest ever. (Psst. Today is Mommy and Daddy's 3rd wedding anniversary. In case you can't tell, we dig each other SO much. We always want you to know how much we love each other and how much we love you!) 

Your understanding is really increasing. You definitely know the sign for milk and get super-excited when I do it. You've even done it a few times. We're working on "more" now. You say "mama" a bunch, and you're starting to associate it with me. You've done "dada" a few times, but not regularly. Mostly it's still sweet babbly nonsense, but we love it anyway! You are able to "play" a lot more now and love to do peek-a-boo. By that I mean that you will hold something out for me to duck behind (like the collar of my shirt) and then pull it away and laugh. You can also hand me things when I ask for them. You are so fun. I'm sure every parent thinks their baby is the bee's knees, but baby you sure are swell!


Christmas was fun, but you didn't really know what was going on. We didn't put up the tree because we didn't have much space and I was worried you would pull it over. Next year, we'll pull out all the stops and really do Christmas right. You got several presents that you really love like your walker, wooden puzzles and a shape stacker. I staged a little photo shoot of you to celebrate the occasion. It makes me laugh and smile, just like you always do.



I love you so much,
Mommy.






Tuesday, 1 January 2013

See you tomorrow

I'm publishing this to make myself accountable. Tomorrow night I'll be back with a 10 Month letter because I'll have finally figured out how to post more pictures. (I appear to be able to past them from my phone, but that's as far as I've gotten!)

Until then, please enjoy this picture of Linus doing an Elvis impression!